Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A STEADY RAIN - Opening Weekend

Joseph Kremer in A STEADY RAIN
“Opening Weekend” is always a fun few days in the theatre world. It’s filled with exhaustion, weird energy,
rehearsal line flubs, and beer in the dressing room. I’ll explain the booze in the dressing room at the end.

Opening Weekend is the name for the days of Preview, Opening Night, and the Sunday Matinee. The Preview (first performance in front of an audience) is always fun, but extremely nerve-racking. However, when the audience gave what felt like a 5 minute standing ovation to Matthew Wiener (Producing Artistic Director) and Erica Black (Managing Director) before their curtain speech, any trepidation Chris and I felt suddenly went away. That was a pretty magical moment to experience backstage.

Opening Night was especially incredible since this was the first show for Actors Theatre since their triumphant return. There was a feeling in the air as if we were all experiencing a very special moment together at the same time. Sure, I was a little tired and I messed up a couple of lines, but it didn’t matter. The warm compliments I received after the show made me forget all about it and that’s all that’s really important.

In fact, Opening Night was so busy that they actually had to refill the beer …which was being stored in the storage space in our dressing room. So to recap, there was beer within close proximity, great audiences, and an “unpaused” theatre company. What a great weekend.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A STEADY RAIN - blog #3


In case you don’t know: “Tech” is what we in the theatre biz affectionately call the span of 5 days before the opening night. These days are usually full of stress, jokes, aggravation, and weariness as the lighting designer, sound designer, director, and stage manager all sit in the house and create the picture of what the show will look like. But what do the actors do? Well the actors run through the show and of course have their lines and emotional moments carefully choreographed and perfected in order to facilitate the process.


Ok, the truth is, as an actor I have a pretty good idea of what I’m going to do. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stepped into the performance space and my character or emotional beats change quite a bit because of the change in environment.

Did you hear that sound? That was the sound of Anthony (our director) ripping his gorgeous hair out of his head.

Don’t worry Anthony, it doesn’t change THAT much.  In fact, you probably won’t even notice it. But it’s definitely something that registers inside of me. The acoustics in the space are usually the first thing that has an effect on me. Most rehearsal spaces are small, enclosed rooms with low ceilings and tile floors, which are absolutely NOTHING like the actual performance space. If the acoustics aren’t great your volume has to go up so the back seats can hear you, which can have a profound effect on what sort of emotion you’re trying to portray. It’s frustrating, but challenging. And sometimes…SOMETIMES it actually helps change things for the better.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A STEADY RAIN - blog #2

So here’s a quiz for you:

In the last 72 hours, Joe Kremer has:

A) Drank heavily
B) Visited deep dark areas of his mind and soul
C) Sat in a room memorizing lines for 7 hours straight
D) Called for line 196,524 times
E) All of the above

If you chose E, you’re correct.

It may seem crazy but all of the items I mentioned above are absolutely necessary.
But I’m sure right now you’re asking me, “Hey Joe, if you’re spending 7 hours memorizing, why are you calling for line 196,524 times?”  The answer to that is very simple, I have stage fright.

In case you don’t know, “calling for line” is when you’re rehearsing a scene and you say to the wonderful stage manager, “line?” When you do that, the wonderful stage manager, who has the script in front of them, says the first part of the line to you, you then say the rest of the line, and then you continue on with the scene. But here’s the thing with me: When I’m in my tiny little office at home, I can have a scene DOWN COLD…and I mean like, know it forwards and backwards. As soon as I have to do it in front of someone such as Anthony (our fearless leader) or Amy (our amazing stage manager), it goes RIGHT OUT OF MY HEAD. So, I just keep “calling for line” and we do it over and over and over, no matter how annoyed my awesome fellow actor (Chris) gets. And believe me, he has every right to be annoyed. I swear, you’d rather go over to dinner at Jeffrey Dahmer’s house instead of listening to me say the word “line” 196,254 times. But the good news is that once I go through a scene all the way in front of someone, it just gets better from there. It’s always that first step that’s always the hardest. But isn’t that the case for most of life’s challenges?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A STEADY RAIN - blog #1

Hi, I’m Chris Haines. I’m playing “Joey” in Actors Theatre’s upcoming production of A STEADY RAIN by Keith Huff running Oct. 25-Nov. 10 at the Playhouse on the Park in the Viad Building. I thought for my blog I would sort of take you through the rehearsal process, what goes on and my take on acting and rehearsals.

So our first week of rehearsal is behind us, and we’re into week 2 of A STEADY RAIN rehearsal. Last week was mostly table work and some initial blocking of the first part of the show. So what’s table work? As it sounds, the actors and the director are at a table, reading from the script. This is a time for close, detailed examination of the text, asking questions, understanding meaning/intentions/motivations. Table work is not necessarily reading through the full script, but breaking it down in manageable chunks which transitions into blocking. Where you take those chunks and begin to put them on their feet. This can be the most frustrating period of time for the actor. The actors are still “on book”—reading from their scripts—trying to take that clarity and understanding that came from the table work and bring that to life in what we are saying and move about onstage. Sort of like patting your head, rubbing your belly and tapping your foot at the same time. At this point our scripts are a crutch; as actors we feel they are holding us back. While frustrating, it is, to me, a vital and necessary part of the process. Being reliant on our scripts forces us to slow down, to not rush through the moments and to find the reality and the truth that is there on the pages of those damn scripts.

Next blog, I’ll share with you my own personal process and how I approach a character.